LANGHORNE, Pa. — Restaurants' loss has been McCaffrey's gain.
The retailer, with three upscale stores, has experienced a boost in business concurrent with the slide in the economy, Jim McCaffrey, president and chief executive officer, told SN in an interview. He suspects that much of the boost in business is coming from shoppers who might otherwise have been dining out.
“I think the economy for us is a positive in the sense that people are eating at home more instead of going out,” McCaffrey said, “and stores like ours, with the amount of food courts and prepared foods we have, really offer that customer that same convenience of a good meal, without the big ticket to go along with it.”
Development of an extensive prepared-food program — including its own commissary and a new Internet program allowing shoppers to prepare their own meals using recipes from noted local chefs — has allowed McCaffrey's a stronger footing than it had in previous downturns, McCaffrey said.
Dubbed Studio Gourmet, the meal-assembly program, which launched at McCaffrey's Yardley, Pa., store in December, is especially exciting, McCaffrey said. It made allies of McCaffrey's and local chefs, who offer a monthly slate of meal choices that consumers can come to the store to assemble or have assembled for them.
“There's an awful lot of people out there who don't know how to cook but would like to be able to feed their family at home,” McCaffrey explained. “This really offers them a nice alternative.”
While product price increases are hitting McCaffrey's hard, its shoppers have continued to buy and only minor adjustments in promotions have been necessary, McCaffrey said.
“You always fear that at some point, consumers will start to shy away from more-expensive items, but we're not seeing that yet, which has surprised us some,” he said.
“I've been talking to our meat managers, saying, ‘Be careful what you're doing there as far as the higher-priced cuts. Maybe you should lean a little more on the chicken breasts.’ But we haven't seen a slowdown.”
McCaffrey's is, however, making a more pointed attempt to deliver a “value” message in its ads, McCaffrey added. This means featuring less-expensive cuts of meat in its ads and a push to emphasize value on branded goods. Private-label items account for only around 3% of McCaffrey's sales, he said.
“We still have the same selections, but in ads were trying to reflect a better value to the customer. For example, in the meat department we're featuring more of the lower-priced cuts and items.”